By The Birmingham Times
The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) is hosting its third annual imerge event Aug. 28, with a theme of “Alabama’s Next First.” This year’s imerge will explore how the state’s leaders are building its future, and how we’re honoring those who led the way decades ago. Imerge2019 will be held at Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama.
“Alabama was a key piece of the moonshot in 1969, and the state has potential to contribute to the “Next First” innovation, whether it’s in space, medicine, agriculture, automotive, or one of a dozen other sectors. imerge will celebrate the state’s potential and its past achievements,” said Steve Spencer, President of the EDPA.
To kick off the event, six companies will vie for a total of $150,000 in early stage investment during Alabama Launchpad. One concept stage company will win $50,000, while one seed company will receive $100,000. Finalists for this competition will be announced in August.
The program will include a live concert by Black Jacket Symphony, performing Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon; in its entirety—note for note, sound for sound—plus a limited set of greatest hits from Pink Floyd.
Each year, EDPA rewards Alabama’s greatest innovators, and this year is no different. This year, however, the group will honor Alabama’s contributors to one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments: landing on the moon. Fifty years ago, Alabama made the moonshot possible. Saturn V’s chief architect, Dr. Wernher von Braun, touched down in Huntsville in 1950 and throughout his storied career there, NASA employed engineers, scientists, and others from 65 of the state’s 67 counties.
Less well known are the accomplishments of women that worked on the mission, such as Dr. Joyce Neighbors, the first woman to join von Braun’s team in a technical role, or those now known as “Hidden Figures”: Dorothy Vaughan, Dr. Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson. For their transformational work, we will honor these women, along with von Braun, with awards for Lifetime Achievement in Innovation.
The audience will also get an opportunity to see, hear and feel the mission to the moon with the Director’s Cut of Apollo 11 Documentary, on 4K screens in surround sound.
Today, Alabama’s innovation economy is again making leaps – in bioscience, defense technology, precision medicine, and more. A panel of STEAM educators and innovators will explore how the state i0s building the next leaders in science, technology and the arts. And keynote speaker, Lt. General Steven Kwast, will explain how Alabama can again be at the forefront of the next space race.
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.